Connections: Linking Talented Educators
Connections: Linking Talented Educators

How We Learn: Embracing Mistakes, Popping Balloons

August 8, 2017

WHERE: Double Churches Elementary School in Columbus, Georgia

WHO: The fifth-grade class of Eric Crouch (GA '16)

WHAT THEY'RE DOING: Learning to embrace making mistakes and striving for continuous improvement as a vital part of learning. After an activity or project, Eric asks the class to slow down, reflect, and identify something they could have done better. Eric blows up a balloon, the student writes his or her "failure" on it with a marker, and then the student pops it with a pin. In this video, student Chase says he should have talked about his partner's idea before his own to make sure the whole team's ideas were included in his presentation. "I love that—he's putting his partner before himself," Eric tells the class. "Are you thinking about something that you could do better? I know I think about it every day. Just because I'm an adult doesn't mean I don't make mistakes."

WHY: "I am trying to help my students see failure as a part of learning," says Eric. "Popping the balloon is symbolic. It represents us moving forward."

"How We Learn" is an occasional series in Connections featuring our Milken Educators and their students in action. Milken Educators, got a snapshot of an interesting learning activity? Send it to web editor Erika Kerekes,


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